I do not spend as much time online or follow all of the various political websites that I did a few years ago. However, I recently went to the website of the Future of Freedom Foundation (FFF), a libertarian website. The FFF was founded, and is headed by, Jacob G. Hornberger, a graduate of VMI, lawyer, former professor, and author.
On the 19th of May, Hornberger posted an article on the FFF site entitled: Open Borders Is The Only Libertarian Immigration Position. Hornberger has written on this topic before, including a July 30, 2010 post entitled An Open Border In My Hometown. Hornberger grew up in Laredo and is the son of a bilingual ethnic Mexican mother and an “Anglo” father.
Hornberger begins Open Borders Is The Only Libertarian Immigration Position by stating: “There is a common misconception in the libertarian movement that there are two positions on immigration within libertarianism : the position favoring open borders and the position favoring government-controlled borders”.
Interesting. I suppose it is a misconception, because I used to think it myself. (I oppose open borders, but I do not have a problem with tourism or limited immigration of culturally compatible people).
Hornberger then explains why he believes that the only immigration position consistent with the libertarian non-aggression principle and private property rights is open borders.
Hornberger gives a hypothetical situation of two brothers owning adjacent ranches, the border between the ranches being the border between Mexico and the state of New Mexico. He postulates the American (ethnic Mexican?) brother inviting his Mexican brother across the border to dinner.
As there is no fence, he just crosses the order of the two countries and ranches. Hornberger then points out that he illegally entered the country, though on invitation of his brother. Hornberger now states that with government controlled borders, the U. S. Border Patrol would have to arrest the Mexican brother, initiating violence and trespassing on the American brother’s private property. But the analogy misses the point, as it ignores what a country is.
The core concept of a country is that a group of people form a set of laws to administer justice to those who would harm others. This has traditionally been done by people who share a common language, culture/ethnicity, and common moral values; when these three criteria are not met, things often do not go well. These people establish legal boundaries (borders) for their government; this is to codify jurisdiction of crimes and clarify who is a citizen -with the right to vote, hold office, etc. The national family may control entry into its collective home, just as a family controls entry into its private home. A country without borders is not a country, and cannot exist.
Some libertarians try to get around this by arguing for imaginary border lines that people may move across, including to seek employment. But at what point do these immigrant resident-workers become citizens -entitled to vote, hold office, and influence the government built by others. From a libertarian-nonaggression-market-oriented position, to hold them out of citizenship as resident aliens would be unfair, as it curtails their freedom to participate in (change) the legal system of their new home. The children of the founders just lost their country.
Libertarianism has a few flaws, open borders being one of them. My utter rejection of open borders and unrestrained immigration is one of the primary reasons that I no longer call myself a “limited government” type libertarian.